INTERVIEW: 20-year-old Mila Stanzani unpacks her journey to becoming a self-made business woman

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©Calyx Picture Agency Mila Stanzani

When looking for a new change in life it’s not uncommon that people will either have a ‘sort out my life day’ (aka cleaning the house) or cut/colour their hair. It’s that moment we all encounter when we crave change in our life because we’re not entirely sure what we’re doing or where we’re going.

There are then other people, like 20-year-old Mila Stanzani from Trowbridge, who look for a new career venture – and by “career venture” I mean becoming your own boss. So, in 2018, Miss Stanzani created her own backpack business under her self-made company Arma-Mi.

Much like anything these days – heard of Chilly’s water bottles? – Arma-Mi offers a product with a huge range of sizes, colours and patterns to choose from (essentially creating your own personalised travel accessory). To unpack just how the 20-year-old has became her own boss, I caught up with Arma-Mi business owner and founder Mila Stanzani.

Why did you start Arma-Mi? What was the inspiration behind it?

I have always loved the idea of having my own business and creating something to be proud of, although after leaving school I did try a variety of courses/apprenticeships/jobs but it didn’t quite go according to plan as it wasn’t really what I wanted to do.

How did you come up with the name ‘Arma-Mi’?

Arma-mis’ name came about from the design of the bag being shaped like an armadillo, Arma and Mi because of my name Mila.

Are you currently studying?

Not studying as it’s just not for me, I think I was a hippie in a previous life. However, I do work as a tv and movie extra occasionally which I absolutely love.

Would it be safe to call you an entrepreneur?

I don’t feel like an entrepreneur (yet) just like someone who has started a business and is still finding her feet with it all!

What challenges have you faced in setting up your own business?

So many challenges I can’t even begin, but one of the biggest challenges right now is the marketing and growing the business. The prototyping of the bag took close to a year to get just right, and the sourcing of all the components, fabrics, zips, decals, badges etc, took longer than expected.

What have been the benefits of creating your own product?

It feels good knowing I have designed this product and its now being manufactured and sold online. Benefits of selling my own product is a massive boost to myself that people like what I am creating, crazy.

Why would you recommend your bags? What makes them different, or unique?

My rucksack doesn’t look like the standard rucksack, as it has a concertina front panel, so it won’t flop open when you unzip it and no spillage from the sides either, visibility to the bottom of the bag is also better as it has a wide opening. It can stand up unaided and hold its shape due to rods being inserted in the front. I have classic colours, (blue, black, green etc) all the way to burgers, leaves, and fruit designs. Also they’re water resistant – perfect for the beautiful British weather.

Who would you sell an Arma-Mi bag to?

Seeing as we have 18 rucksacks in the range it could be for anybody really, office workers, gym-goers, festival goers, walkers (not hiking) but our main focus is on the students right now.

What are the future plans for your business?

For the near future, I have been designing more ranges of rucksacks/bumbags/sports bags ready to be prototyped to add to the collection and also some cool looking clothing for street wear perfect to match your bag.

Would you encourage others to set out on their own business venture?

I would always encourage others to start their own business venture but be prepared for the long haul as I found EVERTHING doubled in time and money.

Aside from running Arma-Mi, what else do you like to do?

I absolutely love anything outdoors winter time being my favourite as I am a keen snowboarder. Very much into my fitness and gym. Almost any type of art projects which doesn’t burn down my parents house, (wood burner kit has now been banned).

For further information about Arma-Mi visit www.arma-mi.co.uk

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